Saturday, 19 October 2013

Skerton's Vale View Day Centre opens Lunch Club for over 50s

Vale View, Skerton. Image: Google
A new lunch club has started at Vale View Day Centre in Lancaster, aimed at the over-50s.

The lunch club costs just £4.60. Regular dishes on the menu include fish and chips, roast dinners, homemade fruit crumbles and custard.

There's a range of activities including men's groups, arts and crafts, exercise activities, dominoes, DVD shows, quizzes and a game of bingo.

Vale View is owned and run by Lancashire County Council.

Sian Bonnell, senior care assistant, said: "The lunch club takes places every day, from Monday to Friday. So if you fancy a day off from cooking, it provides you with a hot and tasty meal.

"There are lots of activities during the afternoon, which is a good way! to meet new people and even catch up with friends."

• Vale View is on Stratford Close,, off Shakespeare Road, Skerton. Pre-booking for the lunch club is essential and you need to make your own transport arrangements. For more details, contact 01524 381164 or email

Health service funding changes causing concern

Health experts met to discuss a range of measures to help make Lancashire a healthier county this week - and discuss concerns at government funding changes that could have a major impact on services.

Senior politicians and managers from Lancashire County Council, clinical commissioning groups, the NHS, voluntary sector, district councils and other partners met to look at ways to improve health in the disadvantaged communities across the county.

This group, known as the Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board, agreed to write to the government and NHS England amid concerns about the way money could be divided between local NHS organisations in the future.

Since the reorganisation of the NHS in April this year, NHS England is currently reviewing the formula used to provide funds to these organisations, which commission health services for local people.

Although no decision has been made on whether to introduce the new 'formula', the board will be writing to MPs to express its concerns.

If approved, the formula would see a reduction in the budget for areas where people suffer poorer health by as much as £30 per person and a reduction of £29m every year across the county.

County Councillor Azhar Ali, chairman of Lancashire's Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "We have very serious concerns about the new formula that is being suggested by the Government.

"Although no decision has been made on whether it is being brought in, we want to meet all the Lancashire MPs to make it crystal clear what the implications for the future of our local health services, particularly hospitals will be.

"The problem is that it will lead to a reduction in funding in areas such as Burnley, Chorley, Pendle and Preston. These are the communities where people suffer the poorest healt h and we believe this formula will make it more difficult to narrow the health gap.

"This plan to transfer monies from the poorest areas to the affluent parts of England would also reinforce the north/south divide.

"The formula would lead to a reduction of approximately £150m in funding across Lancashire as a whole over the next few years. This could mean the possible closure of wards, doctors' surgeries and community hospitals.

"We are not going to stand by and let this happen without letting the people of Lancashire know and we will fight these proposals."

The board also discussed how Lancashire is moving forward as one of six areas across the country taking part in the Marmot project.

This is a national project to help improve health in disadvantaged communities compared to more affluent areas.

Under the scheme, the Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board will work closely with other or! ganisations from these areas and will be given expert support and advice to help address specific health challenges facing the county.

County Councillor Ali added: "We're pleased to have been chosen as a Marmot area.

"We have a unique mix of areas in Lancashire which gives some interesting challenges.

"We've already worked together to draw up a list of priorities identified through Marmot earlier this year and the next stage will be to put plans together setting out how we're going to address them.

"We feel that tackling the inequalities will be crucial as we look to make Lancashire a healthier county. We just need to make sure that the Marmot work and the funding is joined up to ensure that we are helping to tackle the least healthy communities."

For more information about the work of Lancashire's Health and Wellbeing Board, visit: http://mgintranet/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=825&MId=2850&! ;Ver=4

Getting the Buzz About Bees!

As part of the Buzz About Bees project, Incredible Edible Lancaster are working with the County Council to make Lancaster's Pointer Roundabout a fabulous place for pollinators on Friday 25th October.

The first stage is to plant early crocus bulbs to provide nectar for bees next spring and the Incredible Edible team would love you to join in.

"We need about 10 volunteers to join them on the day for the start of what could be an amazing turnaround in how we do things in this district - bee part of it!" enthused a spokesperson.

"We will meet at the corner of Greaves Park on the main road at 10am and then carefully make our way across to the roundabout for bulb planting.

"We will provide drinks and snacks, trowels and spades. Please come wearing suitable footwear and bring gloves if you have some!"

• Get The Buzz About Bees: Friday 25th October 2013, 10.00 am-12noon, Pointer Roundabout, Lancaster. Contact Tara White if you'd like to help or visit

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Lancaster ranked as one of England's most vibrant cities

Do you feel it? Are Lancaster's streets tingling for you?

Because, apparently, they should be - as the town has been named one of the most exciting places in the country to live and work.

Good news for those of us fearing we were heading for a pasting like the one Burnley got from the Economist this week, then, with the magazine suggesting the government should give up backing small cities in favour of large ones - and that everyone might be better off living cities like in Liverpool or Manchester in the North West.

Lancaster is clearly doing much better than Burnley, rated eighth in a new list of England’s most vibrant urban areas, put together by information services company Experian.

It is one of only three northern cities ranked in the top 10, the others being Manchester (which tops the list) and Leeds (fifth).

Experian compiled the list by analysing and comparing 2001 and 2011 Census data, ranking each of the centres on eight key characteristics covering the housing type, tenure, economic activity and the professional status of the population.

Councillor Janice Hanson, Cabinet member with responsibility for economic regeneration, said: “These results are good news and consistent with recent evidence the council has commissioned to assist with its new Local Plan.

“To support and continue this vibrancy what the council now needs to do is take action to maintain a healthy working population.

“This means taking action to address our housing needs and retaining skills both from graduates at the district’s own universities and encouraging the return of some of our young people from other higher education institutions in larger cities. All of these issues are addressed in the forthcoming Local Plan."

Over 4,000 fewer victims of crime in Lancashire

Crime is continuing to fall in Lancashire, with the latest statistics showing there were 4,088 fewer victims of crime in the county last year.

The final end of year statistics for July 2012 to June 2013 showed reductions across the majority of crime categories.

Overall, reports of crime fell by 4.3 per cent from 95,692 to 91,604 in comparison to the previous year.

Lancashire Constabulary is pleased to see that the figures show a 17.4 per cent reduction in drug offences, from 4,793 to 3,961 – 832 fewer crimes.

Criminal damage is also down by 9 per cent from 18,232 to 16,589 – a reduction of 2,306 victims – and robbery has reduced in Lancashire by 7.5 per cent from 679 offences to 628 – a reduction of 51 offences.

In addition, there were 220 less public order offences, with crimes falling 7.8 per cent, from 2,838 to 2,618 and 150 less violence against the person crimes which reduced by 0.8%, down from 18,712 to 18,562.

Theft offences were reduced by 1,384 crimes from 47,429 to 46,046 – a difference of 9 per cent.

There were 51 fewer people caught in possession of weapons, with offences falling 9 per cent from 565 to 514

Robbery offences also reduced with 30 fewer victims; a decrease of 4.6 per cent from 656 to 626.

Sexual offences saw an increase of 261 crimes – or 17.7 per cent – up from 1,477 to 1,738.

As for detection rates, Lancashire was ranked second in the north west and ninth highest in England and Wales at 36 per cent, meaning there is a good chance that people committing crime will be caught.

Satisfaction levels in Lancashire are at 86.8 per cent, which would rank very strongly with anyone in the private sector.

Confidence, which is only measured locally by the Constabulary is at 88.6%.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates said: “It is reassuring that, once again, there are fewer people becoming victims of crime in the county and our officers and staff are determined to see this trend continue.

“There is no doubt that the nature of policing demand is changing with an even greater emphasis needed on supporting vulnerable people within our community.  Just as our communities increasingly feel challenged, this presents new challenges within the Constabulary as some crimes do show signs of increases during this financial year”.

“We are putting the increase in sexual offences down to the public feeling more confident about reporting these types of incidents to us, especially given the publicity in the media around high profile sexual offence cases.

“Despite a reduction in crime overall, our aim now is to try to sustain our focus on supporting the vulnerable in partnership in our communities, despite the financial challenges we are facing as a force.

“We are not complacent and we remain dedicated to keeping Lancashire’s communities safe, keeping levels of crime low and to delivering a high quality of service to victims of crime.

“We also recognise that communities themselves and partners play a significant role in crime reduction and prevention so we are grateful for their continued support too.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: "Lancashire is a safe place to live, work and visit – and the continuing reduction in the number of crimes committed in the county emphasises that.

"Overall crime in the county has fallen yet again, and credit must be given to Lancashire's officers and staff for the hard work they have put in to achieving that. It is a positive picture and I am committed, alongside the Chief Constable, to ensuring the county remains safe and criminals know if they commit crime in Lancashire they will be caught and brought to justice.

"However, the challenging financial situation being faced by Lancashire Constabulary is no secret, and I remain cautious about how long crime levels can continue to reduce for, given the scale of the cuts. As Commissioner, my job is to work with the Chief Constable to ensure issues are addressed and ensure residents and their communities are protected through these difficult times."

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Student sentenced to 15 month's for University sex assault

Xiaoqi Wang
Xiaoqi Wang, 22, of Furness College, Lancaster University, Lancaster, was today sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment at Preston Crown Court having been found guilty of three counts of sexual assault last month.

At some point, the Home Office will also be starting deportation proceedings to transport Xiaoqi back to his home country of China. As he has received a prison sentence of more than 12 months, but less than four years, Xiaoqi will not be able to re-enter the UK for a minimum period of ten years.

The offence took place in the early hours of Sunday 21st October last year when Xiaoqi, in a drunken state, entered the room of a fellow student and sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman who was visiting at the time.

DC Paul Donnelly of Lancaster CID said "It is important students know that the Lancaster University campus is a very safe place and this assault was a very rare instance. Crime on campus is historically very low thanks to the efforts of the Neighbourhood Policing Team that covers campus, the university's Security team and the network of college porters, and all will continue with their efforts to ensure crime on campus stays low.

"Sexual offences can cause victims an incredible amount of emotional distress. This means it is very important students and the wider population of Lancaster know we take offences like this very seriously, and will always look to prosecute sexual offenders.

"Offences of this nature are never acceptable. Drunkenness is neither an excuse nor a defence for such reprehensible actions, and this is reflected in the custodial sentence given to Xiaoqi today and the fact that he will be faced with deportation at some point."

Help for Heroes charity box stolen in Morecambe

Police are appealing for information following the theft of a Help for Heroes charity box in Morecambe.

Between 11.00am and 3.00pm on Wednesday 2nd October, somebody stole the charity box from the sand sculpture area near to the Clock Tower on Marine Road Central.

The box contained £130 which was destined for the UK military charity Help for Heroes.

PC Jonathan Smith said: “This theft occurred in the middle of day when the area would have been busy. If anybody saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area or has any information which they think could help then please contact police.”

Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at

Appeal after woman is sexually assaulted by taxi driver in Lancaster

Police are appealing for a man to come forward who came to the assistance of a woman after she was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver in Lancaster.

The incident took place between 215 and 3.15am on the 28th September when a 19-year-old female caught a taxi from outside Elements nightclub. During the journey, the driver is alleged to have touched her leg and her breasts.

The taxi pulled up on Abbeystead Drive and as the girl, went to get out of the car; the driver hugged her and kissed her.

On getting out of the car, the victim approached a man who was passing and told him what had happened. This man, who possibly goes by the name 'James', stayed with her for a while before he was joined by a female friend.  The two have then walked the victim home.

A 41 year old man from Carnforth has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and has been released on police bail until later this month.

DC Michelle Stephens said, “Despite on-going enquiries, we have been unable to find this man and woman who helped the victim on the night and we are very keen to speak to them.

“I would appeal directly to those two people, if you see this appeal; please get in touch with us by calling 101 and quoting log number LC-20130928-0337. Similarly, if anyone has any other information that they think might help, they should also call 101 and quote that log number.”

People with information can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on-line at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Appeal after unprovoked assault in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information after a girl was the victim of what appears to be an unprovoked assault as she walked through Lancaster.

The 15 year old girl was walking along Millennium Bridge at around 8:45pm on the 2nd September when another teenage girl ran up behind her, shouted at her, jumped on her back and pushed her to the floor.

She then kicked and punched the victim in the head and body before running from the scene.

PC Adam Jussub said; “Fortunately, the victim only received minor injuries but I am keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area at the time and may have witnessed what happened to contact police.”

Anybody with any information can contact police on 101 quoting log number LC-20130902-1453.

Graffiti Classics, comedy cabaret string quartet visit Arnside

Sixteen strings, eight dancing feet and four voices with one aim: to make classical music wickedly funny and fantastically exhilarating. That's the aim of Graffiti Classics, who bursts the elitist boundaries of the traditional String Quartet with its hilarious all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy show now touring to Arnside in partnership with Highlights Rural Touring Scheme.

The event will be a classical concert, a gypsy-folk romp, an opera, a stand-up comedy set and a brilliant dance show all rolled into one. From Beethoven to Bluegrass, Offenbach to Elvis, Strauss to Saturday Night Fever, the group deliver uplifting performances across a variety of musical styles all tied together with cheeky audience interaction.

In hot demand in top theatres, festivals and at prestigious venues across the globe, as well as headlining on the world’s most luxurious cruise ships, the band also performs regularly on national TV and radio. Most recently, Graffiti Classics performed on BBC TV’s Hoopla!, played live on Jeni Barnett’s BBC Radio Show as well as being a profile feature on Lyric FM’s Culture File in Ireland. The band has also performed on The Late Late Show in Ireland.

This world-class, world travelled show never fails to get audiences laughing, clapping and singing along.

• Graffiti Classics - Comedy cabaret string quartet | 7.30pm, Saturday, 7th December, Arnside Educational Institute, Church Hill, Arnside. Tickets: Adult £8, Child £5, family (2+2) £21. Bookings: Sue Hayward 01524 762254 Web:

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Kendal Church celebrates the power of comics during Festival

At One with the Cartoon Universe

Just like many European festivals, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival is doing its best not just to attract comic fans to Kendal next weekend (18th - 20th October), but also to involve the local community in the event. So far, along with longer-running exhibitions of comic art, this has also included shops featuring comic art in their window displays and the town's knitting community preparing some 'guerilla knitting' antics to brighten up the streets with comic-inspired woollen promotions.

Now, a local church has announced it is to join in the inaugural event with a special Sunday Service on Sunday October 20th at Kendal Unitarian Chapel that will celebrate the power of comics during first

Join cartoonist John Pickering, as he opens his cosmic comic to look at the power of humour and that the pen is always mightier than the sword.

Whether it's The Gospel According to Peanuts or The Zen of Ben, cartoons have been, and are, affirmations of human creative freedom that have crossed faith and cultural boundaries. John will be joining the dots and drawing some lines of thought to the Far Side of spirituality and the omnipresent Cartooniverse that surrounds us.

The Chapel says all are most welcome to join in this unique exploration into creative space! If you have a comic, cartoon or annual that you like, do take it along - if not, just bring yourself.

• For the full Festival programme visit